Terpene – what is it?

Terpene – what is it??

Have you ever thought about why you feel the fresh air as you walk through the forest? You probably think that the lift is naturally fresh, since you are in nature. However, have you ever thought more deeply why this is so? It is the way the fragrances of ferns, pines, flowers and moss harmoniously meet to create a pleasant sense of calm. Where does all this smell come from, but really? Many of these plant fragrances happen to be made from naturally occurring chemicals called terpenes.

In the world of cannabis, psychoactive cannabinoids like THC have always been in the limelight. Now that the marijuana industry is evolving, more and more consumers are hearing about terpenes, so they know the important role they play in cannabis therapy. In recent years, the number of discussions on this topic has increased.

Ask a botanist what that is, this would probably tell you that they are substances that are found in the essential oils of plants. In addition, they are aromatic organic hydrocarbons. Terpenes occur in a variety of plants and even in some insects. Nowadays, most people use the term “terpene” when referring to cannabis. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about terpenes.

What are terpenes?

These oils are secreted by the same cannabis plant glands that produce CBD and THC during flowering. So far, more than 20,000 terpenes have been identified. The cannabis plant produces at least 100 of them. Each has its own smell, taste and individual medicinal properties. Do you like the sweet, fruity taste of Pineapple Twist? It is based on the terpenes in the plant. The same applies to the “skunky” smell of Sour Diesel.

The fact is that they have a wide range of tastes and smells. This includes the smell of berries, mint, citrus and pine. Although they are a strong feature of the cannabis plant, but not only in Indica, Sativa and Ruderalis, but all plants included. For this reason, all the flavors and flavors associated with them are named after plants.

For example, the terpenes, which give cherries their unique flavor, can be found in proper fruity marijuana like Cherry OG. In addition, the combination of terpenes can lead to novel tastes and smells like “Diesel” and “Skunk”.

At a more scientific level, they are simple organic compounds consisting of hydrogen, carbon and occasionally oxygen in different arrangements. There is also a more complicated chemical version of terpenoids – called terpenoids. Although very similar to terpenes, terpenoids are actually terpenes denatured by oxidation.

The interest in cannabisterpenes goes far beyond the smell. Studies suggest that terpenes, when interacting with cannabinoid receptors, may either help or hinder the action of cannabinoids. Consequently, it is also known that terpenes bring with them a number of health benefits.

The chemistry of terpenes

The term “terpene” is used to describe a large group of chemical compounds that affect taste and smell. Its functions are compared with those of the terms “fruits” and “vegetables”. However, terpene molecules can be subdivided into two other types. They are called monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes.

Monoterpenes are “light” in weight. They include limonene, myrcene and terpinolene. These are the representatives who are responsible for the floral scents that the cannabis plant gives off. These include jasmine, rose, apple and kiwi. Sesquiterpenes, on the other hand, are “heavy” and include caryophyllene and humulene. These are the terpenes responsible for the more stinging and sandalwood fragrances of the cannabis plant. These include musk, skunk, tea tree and diesel..

Since monoterpenes are lighter, they evaporate faster as soon as the live plant is freed from their growth medium. A study carried out by the University of Mississippi showed that the number of monoterpenes is reduced by 55 and 85% through dry curing and decarboxylation.

The effect of reducing monoterpenes is that the residual, heavier sesquiterpenes will more readily affect the flavor, taste and medicinal properties of the final product, be it wax, oil or flower.

Thus, for the most part, products made from decarboxylated cannabis are more likely to have the sharp side of the aroma. That’s because the monoterpenes have already evaporated.

Terpene and the entourage effect

Several studies have shown that terpenes work together to help cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, more easily pass through the bloodstream and lower the blood-brain barrier. In essence, you will more or less feel the effects of a variety, depending on which terpenes are included.

Because they have their own medicinal effects, they also help to either increase or decrease the predominant effects of other cannabinoids. This is called the “entourage effect”. Here, the different components work together or mutually. So you influence the type of effect by either making it stronger or smaller.

If you combine terpenes and cannabinoids together and let them work towards the same goal, you will feel stronger effects.

To alleviate the negative effects of other cannabinoids, cannabis producers can now breed super strains through the use of terpenes. They are designed to deliver the best possible experience for as many people as possible.

For example, it is possible to double the antidepressant properties of a CBD-rich variety or to breed a high THC value with anti-inflammatory or anxiolytic properties of a particular terpene. As you can see, there are now a lot of medical application options. However, research in this area is still in full swing. The industry is still exploring how terpenes work in different varieties individually and together.

Different types of terpenes

There are really a lot of different terpenes. Below we list the most common representatives found in the marijuana plant.


Limonene has a very pronounced citrus scent that makes it an important ingredient in the grapefruit varieties of cannabis. The body absorbs limonene very quickly and even helps increase the absorption rate of other terpens. Limonene is also a potent antimicrobial agent. Its potential as an anticancer agent is being investigated. It is also known to work well against bronchitis and to help you lose weight. Limes are commonly found in skin ointments and medicated creams.


Myrcene is found in almost every marijuana strain. It has an earthy scent of musk and cloves. It is also an important factor in the infamous “couch potato effect” associated with many Indica strains. If you’ve fallen asleep after smoking a cannabis cigarette, you’ve probably experienced the effects of Myrcene.

No wonder that Myrcene is the perfect marijuana painkiller because of its calming effect. In nature you can find Myrcene in thyme, mango, sweet basil and parsley.


Pinen has a classic pine fragrance. It occurs in pines and other coniferous trees as well as some citrus and balsa trees. It is an exceptionally reactive terpene and often forms new varieties in combination with other cannabis terpenes.

Pinen is an antiseptic and has anti-inflammatory properties that help to relax muscles and reduce airway narrowing. It may also have some anti-cancer properties and it is used for this purpose in Chinese medicine.


For centuries, linalool has been used as an aid to aromatherapy because of its classic lavender fragrance. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties, especially for lungs that have inhaled smoke. It has such strong anti-inflammatory properties that it has been studied for Alzheimer’s treatment. In addition, it looks like a strong immune amplifier.

So what you should know

There is not enough research on the effects of certain terpenes in combination with cannabinoids. Previous research indicates the potential impact but does not provide conclusive evidence. Many users, however, believe that extracts containing the full range of terpenes in combination with cannabinoids are more effective than isolating cannabinoids.

This is the reason why cannabis connoisseurs search for CBD and THC values ​​not only in laboratory reports, but also for terpene components.

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Christina Cherry
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